Tag Archives: critique group

Obituary


This is a checking in post, so I’ll try to keep things brief. I have a lot going on over the next few weeks. You may have seen the promos for Quantum Wanderlust, and that’s just part of it. I also have some things to post for friends who are releasing their own books. There are still a couple of things I need to write, but I may not get to all this writing and scheduling until the weekend.

Tonight was my grandson’s birthday, so we all went to supper immediately after work. This leaves us about enough time to clean up and go to bed so we can work tomorrow. He was excited and got some cool nerf gun stuff. His mom got a cute video of him face diving into a plate of whipped cream and looking for a cherry. This is something the restaurant did for us, and it was pretty funny.

Earlier this week another member bailed out of our critique group. Two of us have been there since the beginning, but the other long term members left about a year ago. It wasn’t all at once, and they trickled out over a few months.

New members joined and failed to last three months. We’ve been haunting the local membership base, Facebook, and other likely haunts. Most of the inquiries are looking for wine and cheese, but very little actual writing. Some want to play at being writers, and we come across a bit hardcore for them.

I’ve had my butt kicked at critique group, and I’ve been the one kicking butt a few times too. Honestly, I learned so much from this process I’m going to really miss it. Critique involves hearing the tough things, then adjusting to improve the result. Too many people were looking for the Mutual Admiration Society. Many have been to groups with a lot of members, but only a couple made submissions every month. That just doesn’t work for the other fellow and I.

I recently wrote 25,500 words over a period of about a month and a half. We submit 3000 words per month. The rule was you have to critique all the other submissions, usually about four, but you get four critiques of your own 3000 words. With the novella I just finished, I have eight months of material. If I only got to submit say, twice per year in a big group, that isn’t very helpful.

We had our date set for three members when the newest guy bailed out on the group. The remaining fellow asked me if we ought to fold the whole thing, and I agreed. We had a good run, but it looks like I’ll have to find something else.

I know there are some online options, but those deserve a bit of scrutiny before diving in. The other trick is to find at least a couple of people who are better writers than I am. This isn’t to say that I’m awesome, it’s just a growth and improvement thing. A mix of people with some veterans along with some newer folks seems to work well.

The benefit of the newer folks involves doing the critique work. I’ve learned as much from trying to help others along as from being helped. Sometimes it’s like looking in the mirror, and you cement the lessons you learned, and understand why you got your butt kicked six months before.

I’ll keep my eyes open. Something else may come along. I’m not going to get in a hurry either. I still have access to some darned good beta readers, but that’s a different process.

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Chipping Away

Mom and Dad had date night, and we got pumpkin hats.

I chipped away at my task list. I have a couple of Lisa interviews ready to go, but I’m holding off on which one to post. I’m waiting for purchase data for a book. I don’t have to decide until tomorrow, so I’ve gone as far as I can.

I successfully ignored The Hat. Stepping away is always better for the editing process.

All of my critique work is finished. I printed everything today and put them in my truck for our meeting Tuesday. I got down to the last few pieces of paper yesterday, printed the submissions out, and then learned my print heads needed cleaning. I had to throw them away and shop for paper. We swung by Fred Meyer after date night and all is well.

We ran a few errands, and even picked up some dog toys. We’re still picking up things like those undermats that keep the rugs from sliding around. After we finished my son and I logged a few hours of Borderlands. My character got a cool new sniper rifle that lights its victims on fire, and she got a new head too. Seriously, I don’t write this stuff. You get heads and bodies from a vending machine as a kind of upgrade.

In a way, it’s too bad the real world doesn’t work this way. I could insert my credit card and grow a foot taller. Then I wouldn’t be overweight.

When we re-upped with Direct TV, we were given a year of the NFL League Pass for free. We watched the game last week, but this week it’s not on. We probably need to call them, but were denied the ability to watch. My internet indicates the Steelers won, so there’s that. I might get to check out some baseball later today.

I say might, because Old What’s Her Face is binge watching The Outlander. While Outlander is on, I retreated to another room and started reading A Desolate Hour. It seems to take me forever to read a book these days, but I’m committed. Great story so far.

I also wrote a couple of future blog posts. When the Muse visits, it’s best to give in to her. Not kidding here, she gets violent.

I still haven’t gotten back to the edits on Yak Guy. Tomorrow is my best chance, but it’s dependent upon whether my daughter decides to talk my ear off.

So I chipped away at the task list. Some projects are complete, some on hold, and others yet to come. Maybe tomorrow will let me scratch them all off.

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Wednesday Update

Today is my rotating day off this week, but I took the next two off. There are big things happening at my house, and I need to be here for that.

My morning started off like most. I get up when the dogs demand it. Today it was somewhere about six A.M. After feeding dogs, making coffee, and the usual routine, I decided to start from zero on my WIP called The Hat. I found a lot of errors, and feel bad for having sent it to my critique group already.

I also made a stupid mistake. I edited my way through, and it stopped at about 3000 words. I’d spent my first hour editing the submission to critique group instead of the manuscript. That was easy enough to address, but I felt stupid.

I had plenty of interruptions, and that’s my excuse. My interruption looked like this:

Frankie isn’t much of a cuddler, but today all she wanted was poodle time. She isn’t all that big, and can wiggle beside me in my chair. The iPad fits on the arm of the chair, and it’s a pretty comfy writing position.

Once the edits were finished, I was also refreshed on the story. I decided to keep on writing. Lizzie learned how double-action revolvers work and took a few practice shots. Their symbiosis grew when she trusted the hat to drive while she slept. It was still her body doing the driving, but her mind got to catch a few hours sleep. Turns out the hat is kind of an aggressive driver though. Lizzie and the hat are starting to mesh really well, but they still bicker.

My story is over 11,500 words now, and I feel like I’m 5000 words ahead of where I expected. Beginnings are always this way for me. I start strong, I finish strong, it’s the middle that bogs me down. This was always intended to be a novella, but if it reaches novel length I won’t panic. I don’t know if these are formal rules, but short stories generally don’t have as much setting as novels. If it looks like I’m approaching 70K at the end, I may beef up my settings to raise the word count. I may also need one more plot twist, but I’m thinking about it even now. I don’t know what might be expected in a novella, but I assume it’s somewhere in the middle.

I got a new piece of Lisa Burton art in the email today. My October micro-fiction will have a nice point of reference for people who like to read those. I think it came out pretty well.

After the writing ended, my daughter, her BFF, my wife, and I moved furniture. We’re finally getting rid of the seventeen year old carpet in the majority of the house. We’re having a fake wood floor installed tomorrow. This is a kind of vinyl plank that is hard to tell from real wood after it’s installed. It wears better than wood, and that’s a good thing for a family of dog lovers. We also tend to pick up road sand on our winter boots and this will hold up better than wood. I’ll get some pictures, but might not post them until Friday. Lisa has a guest tomorrow and we want that post to get all the attention.

We also have company coming for the rest of the week. That will eat into writing time, but I may get lucky on Monday.

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Baby Steps Today

If anyone is wondering where I've been, I've had company this weekend. My parents wanted to see the puppies while they are still puppies. It's kind of hard to argue with that. I love puppies myself. We spent most of our time visiting, and went for a nice dinner last night. My oldest son and his entire family decided to join us, my daughter, and her pseudo-boyfriend, so we had a big group. It's nice when we can all get together. It's kind of strange when you start hearing the term Great Grandma, or Great Grandpa.

Today, I dragged my generators to the garage door and started them up. I aimed the exhaust out into the driveway. My intention was to run them out of gas, but they're still going about six hours later. I put them away two years ago and haven't run them since. Old gas is the enemy of engines, and I expected more problems. We are taking the camper out next weekend, and this time we'll need the generators.

I swept out the garage, and intend to finish if the little buggers ever run out of fuel. Right now my dust pile is next to them, waiting for them to finish. Garage is looking pretty good though.

While waiting, I took my turn at puppy patrol. They're both pretty good, but Nyx sometimes doesn't remember to go to the door for a potty break. So far, so good today.

I also worked through my critiques. We met Tuesday, and I stashed them until my parents went home. Yak Guy is still a hit with the group. I need to figure out how to get all the non-fun parts finished.

I tried to talk my wife into stealing away this afternoon to see Pirates, but she wouldn't have it. I feel like I accomplished some reasonable things today.

Tomorrow is my flex day, so there is a small chance to work on the beta reads I received for The Enhanced League. It all depends on luck, but maybe I can move that project closer to completion.

What did you guys do this weekend? Hope you had a good one.

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Back to work tomorrow

Okay, so I admit to being responsible for my own attitude. Last week was shitty, and I can either walk in with a bad attitude, or find a way to get over it. It won't be easy, but I hope I'm capable of getting on with things.

I finished all my promotional posts, but they need a little time to ferment before I send them out. They're all pretty minimal right now and maybe a little more will occur to me. I also finished up this week's Lisa Burton Radio and got it scheduled.

Then a friend suggested a guest post, and I roughed something out but it's still in the works. I also managed reading a half dozen chapters of a new book.

Beyond that, I did my errands and spent a few hours running around town. I'm calling it a good day, even though there was no new fiction involved.

Ennis Fine Furniture is having a warehouse auction that I'd really like to attend. It's on a week night after work, and doesn't fit into either of our schedules. This is mostly about commuting, but we're going to have to give it a pass. My wife has never been to an auction, and it might be interesting. (Twenty miles home, twenty miles back, twenty miles home again. Her alarm goes off at 2:30, mine at 4:00, and we just started Daylight Savings Time… no.)

Thursday is critique group, but there are only two of us now. That won't take very long, and it's near the office.

I have company coming next weekend, so I'm in good shape to slack off a little. It's probably good to step back from Yak Guy, even though I can see the finish line. When I can pick it up, I'll be in a good place to work on it.

Hope you guys had a good Monday.

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The Weekend… ends

Back to the paycheck job for me tomorrow. I had high hopes for some writing, but it never happened. At least not to the degree I had planned.

I spent most of the weekend working on social media stuff and expanding my footprint out in cyberspace. After a lot of fussing and fiddling, I now have sites on Google+ and Pinterest. I have no idea exactly what I'm going to do with them, but I have my reasons.

Google is the biggest search engine on the planet, and I've been told that a presence there helps increase your chances of getting found on a search. So I signed up, and figured out how to push these blog posts onto G+. If any of you are interested this might be my profile https://plus.google.com/117501282560056017429

Pinterest is one I had to be talked into. Nothing is a silver bullet in the world of discovery, but many of us are quite visual. I've written entire stories because I saw a piece of artwork, and this one seems like a good fit for me. If it doesn't expand my footprint, I'll still use it for inspiration. I still don't know how either of these work completely. And like with G+, I'm not completely sure if this is my profile https://www.pinterest.com/entertainin0737/

Part of the issue is my dependence on an iPad. These two seem to want to work best on an app. In fact Pinterest wants to drive me to the app, even when I want the browser version. I kind of slapped it around and tried to force it to give me the link I needed. If anyone is interested, I'm Craig Boyack on Google+. I wanted to be Entertaining Stories or even C. S. Boyack, but Google wants it to match my gmail address exactly. I wound up using a business site on Pinterest, and got to be Entertaining Stories over there.

I'm content with Entertaining Stories, because of branding. I also spent a considerable amount of time hunting for that image that eludes me. I saw it on Facebook around Halloween, and never grabbed it. It's going to be the basis of a shorter story after I finish up some projects. (Even if I never find it.)

So, I'm open to some comments and even critiques on these sites. I've been told a pin board for coming books can create a lot of interest. I'm too late in the game to start for my current projects, but will probably try it for the next wave. I created a small Lisa Burton board, and added some select images with links. Do you think I should do a cover gallery and link those too?

Obviously, I need some friends on these sites. Social media takes a ton of time, and I'll dedicate what I have to the forms that seem to be working or more interactive.

I also assembled and scheduled the next two Lisa Burton Radio spots, built and posted the Rave Reviews Book Club Spotlight Author post, and spent a considerable amount of time at Story Empire.

Just to make sure I wasn't slacking, I printed, read, and marked up critique submissions. We meet Thursday night again, and I'm ready.

Yak Guy got left to his own devices. Today, just to keep my hand in, I wrote another “anthem” piece for The Enhanced League. Regulars will remember one I shared, and they're in second person point of view. I really want to call this one Superman, but titled it Super Man in an attempt to avoid a lawsuit. Do you think this might be safe? It's about a guy trying to steal a base in a baseball game and flying through the air like… well you get it. It's 850 words and I'm counting them. Not much for three days.

We have one of those phony gas log fireplaces. I couldn't care less about it, but my wife scheduled it for service today – because I'm home. (Wasn't that sweet of her.) A big part of my writing time went to keeping Otto out of the guy's toolbox. That meant I didn't have enough time for much more than an anthem piece, but I'm counting it as progress anyway.

So there was my weekend; Otto, snow, fondue, more snow, Lisa Burton Radio, snow, Story Empire, snow, Superman, below zero temperatures, service man, snow, Pinterest, snow, and Google+.

How about it peeps? Do you use these other social media? How do you use them? Do you have any tips or tricks for us in the comments? Am I going to get sued by DC Comics? I know you can't copyright a title, but the title is Action Comics that Superman appears in.

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Trying to get things done

Today was a reasonable day to get things done, I just didn't get as much accomplished as I'd like. I always start off with social media, and I may have lingered there a little too long.

I wound up with about 2000 new words on The Yak Guy Project. I know it isn't all that much, and if I would just force myself I would get more accomplished. Still, I moved it past the 50,000 word mark. This part is kind of fun, because Yak Guy, who goes by Ted is showing some real growth. He's focused on things beyond himself, and taking some genuine risks in the process. Let's face it, at the 50K mark he should have grown a bit by now.

I can tell that I've moved out of the middle muck that I mention on occasion. Getting between the index cards is going to be a lot easier from this point on. As far as the Fool's Journey, I'm about to have him face the strength card. I'm not going to hit it very hard, but he's going to face an obstacle that's always been there in the background. He'll do some things that reflect some of the imagery in the card. I think this one should be more of a demonstration than deep reflection for Ted.

After that, I'm going to have to make some deviations. The whole tarot thing is fun, but for the sake of story, I need to shuffle the deck a little. I need to move the Hanged Man forward, and possibly the Wheel of Fortune. Then there is Justice. I have a character who fits the imagery perfectly, but I don't know if her lesson is required for the sake of the story. Looks like I need to do a bit of research before charging past the Strength card. If I include Justice at all, it needs to weave into the story the right way.

What do you think? Am I deviating from my personal challenge, or making it work? In other words, am I cheating?

I also finished one of my baseball short stories. It ended sooner than what I had planned, but there is a sportscast next that explains some of what happened. I'm going to draw some connections to how spin gets put on a story by the media, lawyers, social media, etc. The sportscast will also have some reflections about human nature as far as competitiveness goes.

In other news, my mother bought Otto a reindeer costume when she was here. It's kind of absurd, and every dog I've ever owned would have chewed this thing to ribbons in short order. Otto likes the damned thing, and whines to have us put it on him. He's a special soul, and nothing like any dog I've ever owned. I've had a lot of bully breeds, but never a 100% pure bulldog before. Anyway, I thought you might enjoy a picture of reindeer Otto.

The hood doesn't stay up very long, but it really makes him happy.

Sounds like we are having date night tonight, because Old What's her Face has some commitments tomorrow. We have a ton of errands to run during the day too. Hmm, could be some writing opportunity in there tomorrow night. Sometime this weekend, I have to work up critique submissions for my group. We meet on Tuesday night after work. Maybe I should do that tomorrow night.

This might be the last chance to remind you all to vote. This blog, Entertaining Stories, was nominated as blog of the year by the Rave Reviews Book Club. My novel, The Playground, was nominated as book of the year. Voting is open to the general public, and I'm up against some tough competition in both categories. Here is the link if you're so inclined. Vote Here!

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